Posts Tagged ‘heart disease’

Changing Perceptions on Saturated Fat and Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Wouldn’t it be boring to be a dietitian if dietary recommendations never changed, if study results didn’t contradict each other, or if new information never came along to blow our long-held beliefs out of the water?  One area of inquiry that has seen change is the in scientific knowledge on the role of saturated fat, and whole milk dairy products in particular, on cardiovascular disease risk. (more…)

New Study Indicates No Link between Low Carb, Higher Fat Diet and Increased Heart Disease Risk

ScienceDaily reports on a new study examining weight loss on a low carbohydrate versus a low-fat diet combined with exercise. Both groups lost weight; however, the low carbohydrate group lost weight faster. Although the low carbohydrate diet was higher in fat, measures of cardiovascular health were not altered by the diet. This work provides additional data indicating that a low carbohydrate, higher fat diet will not negatively affect heart disease risk.

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Children’s Health: Dairy Can Help Make a Difference Toward a Healthy Diet

The rapidly growing childhood obesity epidemic is a looming threat to children’s health now and into adulthood. Obesity is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These health risks are affecting our kids at a time when they should be more interested in the latest running shoes than in the latest trendy glucometers. A well-balanced diet and physical activity can play a role in reversing this trend. The problem? Our children aren’t getting sufficient amounts of either one.

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Go DASH for Hypertension

As a guest of the Texas Beef Council, I was delighted to attend the Dallas Go Red for Women luncheon hosted by the American Heart Association. The Texas Beef Council sponsored the event to promote its 29 cuts of lean beef, which are an important source of iron, zinc and protein.

As I listened to the stories shared by women regarding their experiences with heart disease, it became more meaningful to me that many types of heart disease are preventable. Registered dietitians, as well as other health professionals, can assist people in managing the risk of heart disease and stroke, by treating high blood pressure, the single most significant risk factor. Knowing that people at risk for high blood pressure may have excess body weight, drink too much alcohol or have a sedentary lifestyle, we can share tools to help change these behaviors and manage or reduce this risk factor.

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Vitamin D and reduced cardiovascular disease

ScienceDaily.com reported on new studies that indicate that low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. The studies also show that increasing vitamin D intake can result in a reduced risk of heart disease. To read about the studies, please click here.

Just got to my August issue of Food Technology

The August 2009 issue of Food Technology has a couple of really good editorials. The first is entitled “A Changing Perspective on Saturated Fat” by Roger Clemens and Wayne Bidlack (pgs 19 – 20).

The authors raise the importance of looking at the metabolic effect of individual saturated fatty acids, rather than lumping them all together, as is done in dietary recommendations to avoid saturated fat. They also ask an interesting question, of which I myself have often wondered, “If we were to examine the fatty acid composition of breast milk, do the innate saturated fatty acids that may be important for normal growth and development of infants provide insights into SFA and health relationships?”

Food TechnologyIn addition to highlighting that not all SFA have the same functional effects on CHD risk, they raise the issue of possible unintended consequences that may occur by restricting SFA intake, such as the impact of risk for strokes. This article is worth a read.

The second article I found of particular interest is by Fergus Clydesdale, entitled “Food Technology: Equal Partner for a Healthy Future.” This is a timely perspective as recent books and media stories have focused on eating local and less processed food.

Dr. Clydesdale highlights the role that food processing technologies have contributed in bringing us nutritious food that is safe. He also discusses the important role food processing can continue to play in the future. Another perspective worth the read.

The August 2009 issue of Food Technology has a couple of really good editorials. The first is entitled “A Changing Perspective on Saturated Fat” by Roger Clemens and Wayne Bidlack (pgs 19 – 20).

The authors raise the importance of looking at the metabolic effect of individual saturated fatty acids, rather than lumping them all together, as is done in dietary recommendations to avoid saturated fat. They also ask an interesting question, of which I myself have often wondered, “If we were to examine the fatty acid composition of breast milk, do the innate saturated fatty acids that may be important for normal growth and development of infants provide insights into SFA and health relationships?”

Food TechnologyIn addition to highlighting that not all SFA have the same functional effects on CHD risk, they raise the issue of possible unintended consequences that may occur by restricting SFA intake, such as the impact of risk for strokes. This article is worth a read.

The second article I found of particular interest is by Fergus Clydesdale, entitled “Food Technology: Equal Partner for a Healthy Future.” This is a timely perspective as recent books and media stories have focused on eating local and less processed food.

Dr. Clydesdale highlights the role that food processing technologies have contributed in bringing us nutritious food that is safe. He also discusses the important role food processing can continue to play in the future. Another perspective worth the read.

WHO/FAO on fats and fatty acids in human nutrition

WHO/FAO has published the results from the FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Fats and Fatty Acids in Human Nutrition (November 2008) in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism (14 papers). The papers are available here.

The paper titled ‘Dietary Fat and Coronary Heart Disease: Summary of Evidence from Prospective Cohort and Randomized Controlled Trials’ by Skeaff & Miller (pp 173-201) summarizes the evidence from cohort studies and Annals Nutrition Metabolismrandomized controlled trials of the relation between dietary fat and risk of CHD. They indicate that the intake of fat and saturated fatty acids is not significantly associated with CHD mortality or CHD events in cohort studies. Trans fatty acids intake was significantly associated with CHD events and CHD mortality in cohort studies. Examining randomized control trials they found no significant association between low fat intake and CHD events or mortality. Diets with increased polyunsaturated fat/saturated fat ratio were associated with a decreased risk of CHD events, but not mortality.

In a post-script, the authors cite the paper by Jakobsen et al., (Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 18:1425-1432, 2009), a pooled analysis of 11 cohort studies of dietary fat and coronary heart disease. This study found a significantly decreased risk of CHD events and CHD deaths when polyunsaturated fats were substituted for saturated fats. Fat and Fatty Acid Intake and Metabolic Effects in the Human Body (pg 162-172) by Sanders indicates that in developed countries where saturated fat intake has been reduced to about 10%, further reductions are not likely without major changes in dietary patterns and would only likely result in modest reductions in total or LDL cholesterol.

Prospective studies find no association between dairy food consumption and cardiovascular heart disease

A systematic review of prospective cohort studies by Gibson and co-workers titled, The effect of dairy foods on CHD: a systematic review of prospective cohort studies, found no consistent association between dairy food consumption and risk of cardiovascular heat disease (CHD). (British Journal of Nutrition, 2009)

The researchers found that dairy food consumption is not associated with a higher risk of CHD.  These findings may be due to many different factors.

For example, it has been observed that cheese may have a milder effect on blood cholesterol than would be predicted by its saturated fat content (see T. Tholstrup et. al., Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2004). Higher calcium intakes have been associated with lower blood cholesterol levels. This may be due to the ability of calcium to bind free fatty acids in the gut and form insoluble soaps which do not get absorbed. This is also thought to be one of the mechanisms by which dairy foods may impact weight and/or body composition.

Dairy food and calcium intake during childhood decreases stroke mortality in adulthood

A recent study published in Heart (J.C. van der Pols, et. al, 2009) examined the impact of dairy food and calcium intake during childhood on mortality as an adult about 65 years later. Interestingly, they found that children whose family diet was higher in calcium (greater than ~400 mg/d) had a 40 – 60% lower mortality rate from stroke compared to those with lower family calcium intakes (less than ~400 mg/d). 

 
They also found an inverse association between dairy food intake (mainly milk) or calcium and all cause mortality. It was unclear which cause of death was driving the relationship with reduced all cause mortality.
 
This is an interesting study which needs replication. The reduced risk of death due to stroke may be related to the observed relationship between higher dairy/calcium  intake and reduced blood pressure.

Vitamin D research points to heart-health benefits for children; another reason kids should choose milk

Two recent studies in Pediatrics show that kids aren’t getting enough vitamin D and that low levels of this nutrient are linked to an increase in risk factors for heart disease. 

In the first study, nine percent of the 6,000 participants (ages one through 21) were deficient in vitamin D and another 61% had insufficient levels.  The investigation showed an association between low vitamin D intake and high blood pressure and low HDL-cholesterol (aka the “good” cholesterol).

Similar findings resulted from the second study, which looked at vitamin D status among adolescents. Low intake was linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, hyperglycemia and metabolic syndrome.

Data from national food intake surveys reveal that increased intake of vitamin D is synonymous with increased consumption of dairy products (Keast, D.R., S.L. Hoerr, V.L., et. al, FASEB J.V19(4), 2005).  And when you consider that almost all milk is fortified with vitamin D, and one 8-ounce serving provides 100 IUs – which is 25% of your daily value for the nutrient – even more merit can be added to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid recommendations of three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk or equivalent milk products a day.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently doubled the amount of vitamin D it recommends for infants, children and adolescents to 400 IU a day of vitamin D, beginning in the first few days of life, an action that speaks highly on the value of this nutrient.

And given that this potential heart disease-fighting vitamin also works with calcium to build strong bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, let’s not forget that one serving of milk provides about one third of your calcium needs along with eight other essential nutrients, including protein, potassium and magnesium.

With back to school time just around the corner, and school meals an excellent opportunity for kids to drink milk, there is no better time than now to communicate the need for three servings of dairy a day to our colleagues, peers and family.

Click here to listen to my radio interview on The Food Insider for more information.